External HD Basic Help!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by jaredwaynef, Aug 23, 2009.

  1. jaredwaynef macrumors member

    Aug 23, 2009
    Hey guys, this is my first forum post (You guys have helped me answer questions all of the time in the past, so I decided to join). I'm buying a MBP soon finally making my conversion from Windows. My desktop has a large amount of files that I need to transfer to my MBP. I bought a LaCie Rugged 500GB to do the transfer when it dawned that I might have a problem.

    So my question: When I plug the HD into my PC and transfer everything onto it, will the drive be able to just plug into a Mac and finish up the transfer, or will re-formatting the drive for a Mac mess it up?
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Windows uses two different formats for external drives, most of the time. One is FAT32 and the other is NTFS. NTFS is more sophisticated but has had historically less cross-platform ability; FAT32 is supported on essentially everything, but you cannot put large files (if you have single files >4GB such as big videos) on it.

    Anyway.... OS X supports read/write FAT32 and read-only NTFS. You can also add a free plugin called NTFS-3G to get writing for NTFS on your Mac.


    The short answer is that it'll work fine -- to just transfer the files, you can use either NTFS or FAT32 and copy the files onto the Mac without reformatting.

    Once you've copied them over, you'll need to decide, if you want to continue using the drive, what the format should be. If you don't have >4GB single files, just use FAT32 for simplicity.
  3. jaredwaynef thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 23, 2009
    Thanks a lot! That makes me feel better then about this switch!

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